/ Wooden ice tools?

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Pay Attention - on 05 Jan 2017
Ice tools made of wood!
Light, strong, balanced, durable. Are they the future, or a new kind of retro?

Who's used them? How did they compare? Are they valuable? Do they inspire confidence?
It's woken my curiosity.
olddirtydoggy - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to Pay Attention:

Not sure really. I'm a builder and I had some older wooden handle, heavy hammers but the shafts have all broken as the wood has dried out and the supple structure of the timber has degraded. Not sure about these climbing tools.
Dave Kerr - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to Pay Attention:

Might be ok for ice but not much cop on mixed.
top cat - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to Dave Kerr:

> Might be ok for ice but not much cop on mixed.

Surely most every placement on ice is hammered and most on mixed are placed? But for sure tradition wooden shafted axe pick shapes weren't too good, for either! Also the taper of the shaft just above the spike was a design disaster!

However, reshape the shaft and use a modern but not too radical head and you could have a nice combination. Maybe.
Misha - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to top cat:

> Surely most every placement on ice is hammered and most on mixed are placed?

If only... placed, hammered, torqued, levered, yanked...

jonnie3430 - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to Pay Attention:

These guys have done them; http://www.dryicetools.com/kronos/

I assume they'd be fine on mixed and ice, but wear quicker on the former as the material isn't as robust as metal. That can be engineered out though it would take a while to do the trials and development.
George Fisher - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to Pay Attention:

Hi guys, I'm very happy to answer questions you have about the KRONOS. I will say that they have been tested extensively on both ice and mixed terrain. They also carry the T mark and have been through the same tests that other technical tools on the market have.

The wood composite they are made from is incredibly durable, it's used as a wear resistant material in various industries.

Our fleet of demo tools Are now into their 4th season in the hands of climbing guides and around the ice festival scene in the US are looking great and showing very little wear. I've used them on ice, mixed and some drytooling (though I'm not really a DT'er so only on M6/7). They perform on all terrain. Ice and mixed specific picks are both available.

I do have demo tools in the UK if winter ever comes and people would like to try a pair let me know. We'll be at various US ice fests again this year including Ouray in a coupe of weeks for our American friends to try them out.

George
Fredt on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to top cat:

> But for sure tradition wooden shafted axe pick shapes weren't too good, for either! Also the taper of the shaft just above the spike was a design disaster!


I have and still use a Chouinard Zero 60cm axe with a bamboo shaft, got it in 1971.

http://www.supertopo.com/inc/photo_zoom.php?dpid=Oj00PDokIiQkIg,,

I have used it exclusively an dozens of Alpine climbs, it's ideal for all round use, I can brake with it, belay with it, and its fine for ice up to Scottish IV, when combined with a smaller hammer with a pick. (and I have done Point Five with it)

I used it on my last trip 18 months ago on the Allalinhorn, Strahlhorn and Matterhorn.

I bought some more modern thingies with droopy picks, but found they were no good for what I do. What good is droopy pick on Ledge Route?
dek - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to George Fisher:
I think they look fantastic, and I imaging they are as strong as carbon fibre tools on the market? Don't think I'd try that same 'stress test' as in the video, with my old carbon Black diamond tool though!
You could have a little stall up at the CIC, offering Day hire rates?!
zimpara - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to Dave Kerr:

> Might be ok for ice but not much cop on mixed.

Brilliant!
The most bigoted comment I have ever read on UKC hahahaha ;)
Nice one
31
oldie - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to Fredt:

Have the same axe and still use it occasionally. Modern "walking" axes seem to have not much less curve on the pick.
George Fisher - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to dek:

Thanks. They do look great if I do say so. They certainly stand out in the crowd.

Maybe I could camp out at the CIC with a mobile demo fleet. People could take them out for laps.
I wouldn't charge for that.

George Fisher - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to Dave Kerr:

I'm interested to know why you say not much cop on mixed? I'd like to understand more about people's first impressions.
jonnie3430 - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to George Fisher:

Maybe see if one of the fort William shops will rent some for you?

The reason I questioned the durability for mixed is that I see the damage I do to my axes and would assume it's be a bit more severe? What I assume to do the worst damage are saggy torques, for example where the axe is six inches into a three inch wide crack and you pull to the side to hold it in place, the loading is to the side of the head and also concentrated six inches down the shaft on the side. If it is a cruxy move, more than your weight may be on the axe, you may have been up and down on it a few times and it may be slipping on the edge. I'd expect to gouge out some metal from the head and shaft doing that and would assume that the same or worse would happen with wood. I tape up my axes with self amalgamating take try to protect then from this, which also gives a bit of extra grip the edge, which I would assume is the same with wood.
gethin_allen on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to Pay Attention:

As I read it these densified laminated and engineered woods are closer to carbon fibre composites and fibre reinforced plastics that the timber that most people would be familiar with.
It's basically a load of wood fibres held together with posh resins in the same way that carbon fibre is and glass fibres are in GRP.
Pay Attention - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to George Fisher:

Thanks for explaining. They caught my eye with the striking design. Unfortunately I am not in the market this winter (due to lack of it) and there is still unused mileage in my Katanas.
top cat - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to George Fisher:

Kronos: so where do you attach your leashes? The hole in the grip is IN the grip, not a lot of use under your palm?
Dave Kerr - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to George Fisher:
> I'm interested to know why you say not much cop on mixed? I'd like to understand more about people's first impressions.

Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think wooden shafts would cope well with being hit with a hammer to seat them, being twisted against rock with body weight on them and horizontal loading.

To illustrate this, the shafts of my axes are covered with gouges and nicks.

Edit: also, metal shafts work. Other than being a more 'natural' product and looking a bit nicer, why would I want a wooden shafted axe?
Post edited at 18:39
Dave Kerr - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to zimpara:

> Brilliant!

> The most bigoted comment I have ever read on UKC hahahaha ;)

> Nice one

You're going to have to explain that one to me.
1
john campbell - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to Dave Kerr:

dave,

I've had the Kronos tools in my shop last season. The "wood" is more akin to laminated carbon fiber than wood. in the marine industries they use a board called "G10" a compression molded plate for high rigging load reinforcement. the board is typically 3/8" or 1/2" thickness for 10's of thousands of pounds of force from rigging loads. the wood of these tools is very similar. It's not really wood at this point. the shaft being solid, not a tube, would be reassuring to me.

while the Kronos tools will get nicked up, like your alloy tools, they are probably stronger. i have seen aluminum tools from Grivel and Petzl break/crack at the rivets from use. the BD Cobra has stood the test of time for mixed climbing.

just sharing my impression of the tools.
Dave Kerr - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to George Fisher:

Can you get them with an adze and / or hammer?
George Fisher - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to top cat:

The nicest leash attachment i've found is using a girth hitch through the handle hole with a webbing leash like a blue ice boa. This goes for any tool I've used and is how I always leashed my Nomics.

The webbing lays nice and flat and having very little concentrated mass doesn't impede the swing unlike having a small biner clipped through a spike.

Most of the time I climb without leashes.
George Fisher - on 05 Jan 2017
Hi Dave

In the 3 and a bit seasons of use that our demos have had so far there is very little visible damage to the shafts. The material is very similar in hardness to aluminium and really nothing like even a piece of regular hardwood. The shafts are incredibly strong and cope fine with being torqued and twisted. That said, nothing is indestructible, and just about all tools will break given enough punishment. One thing that you can do with our tools is sand and smooth nicks and refinish them with oil to keep them looking sweet. (or don't and wear the scars with pride)

Our mixed pick comes with a 'hammer' bulge built into the back of the pick but honestly if pounding lots of pins is your thing there are better tools for that, something with a straighter shaft for instance. We don't currently offer an adze and I'm working on that as a bolt-on part.

As for the advantages of wood over Alu, the two major ones being the thermal characteristics, holding our axes makes your hands noticeably less cold and the way wood absorbs shock, first time sticks in ice are better and they feel softer and less harsh to use. And, yes, they look nicer

George
Dave Kerr - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to George Fisher:

Sorry George, my comment about them not being suited to mixed was based on the OP talking about wooden axes. It sounds like yours have quite different properties from a pure wooden axe.

I wouldn't mind trying a pair of the opportunity came up.
George Fisher - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to Dave Kerr:

Of course, if you can let me know a few days in advance of a trip and I can get some demos out to you to try. I have ice and mixed picks available and can switch them out as you need.

All the demo tools are coming out to Ouray with me on the 18th - 24th of this month but after then they'll be available.

We get quite a few people who quite understandably assume they're wooden tools from 1970 something and not up to the rigours of modern climbing. Demos are the best way to show people that's not the case.

Cheers
George
Nick Harvey - on 05 Jan 2017
These look cool to me but my concerns wouldn't be about the wood but if picks will be available in many years to come. Not that I like to support the big boys but that is one def advantage of the nomic etc.

rogerwebb - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to George Fisher:

> I will say that they have been tested extensively on both ice and mixed terrain.


The mixed terrain you refer to; is that North American mixed or Scottish mixed? Or both?




George Fisher - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to rogerwebb:

North American, Canadian, Peruvian, Welsh.

rogerwebb - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to George Fisher:

Thanks
ads.ukclimbing.com
wercat on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to Pay Attention:

Remember the Mosquito, one of the fastest fighter-bombers of World War II! My driving instructor flew as a navigator and said they had great confidence in the aircraft, just that it was a bit disconcerting going low over Gereman airfields with them shooting back!
Mr. K - on 07 Jan 2017
In reply to George Fisher:

I'm at Ouray this month and would be really interested in taking a pair for a test drive and reporting back with my findings.
George Fisher - on 07 Jan 2017
In reply to Mr. K:

Absolutely. Swing by the Furnace-Industries booth in the main event arena bit. Ben and I will be there all weekend.

We've got limited numbers of demo tools so best to get in early.

George



drsdave - on 08 Jan 2017
In reply to rogerwebb:

Roger is there much of a difference between Scottish and non Scottish mixed?
Dave Kerr - on 08 Jan 2017
In reply to drsdave:

> Roger is there much of a difference between Scottish and non Scottish mixed?

In terms of the demands put on axes, what most people refer to as Scottish mixed is more like dry tooling.
rogerwebb - on 08 Jan 2017
In reply to drsdave:

I think that North American mixed tends more to dry rock and then ice with an emphasis on the use of picks, I may be wrong.

Scottish exploits shaft placements more, or did before molded hand grips became so common, and the use of the spike for push moves off turf nubbins and verglass, again less easy with modern axes with the serrated teeth.
I would love to see a nomic or ergo type axe with the flat profile of the DMM Rebel with a spike copied from that axe too.

Sometimes I think designers get over obsessed with top end steep stuff and don't notice that some things that are good for that are not relevant and maybe make things worse for us humans
pamph - on 08 Jan 2017
In reply to Pay Attention:

In the late 80's and/or the early 90's Chouinard made the Zero axe and hammer, both with bamboo shafts. The picks were very curved to match the natural swinging action when placing them in ice. I have two friends who swore by them, one of them quite happy leading Canadian V and VI ice routes.
They did have their limitations though, as my other friend found out when we set off to do Smith's on the Ben. He was leading the first pitch and was half way up it when he swore loudly. When I asked what was the problem he just said there was nothing wrong, and carried on. I lead the crux pitch, he followed and finished the route through the cornice. When we topped out he showed me his axe, and the head was wobbling about like a drunk. The shaft had split where the head was attached to the bamboo and was only connected to the shaft by a slither of bamboo! There was enough left for him to carry on climbing, though most people would have banged in a screw and abbed off when it happened!
I still have a bamboo shafted Chouinard walking axe which I use , and which has also done The Curtain with a McInnes Terror in my other hand, but that's another story!
drsdave - on 09 Jan 2017
In reply to rogerwebb:

So as a matter of interest Roger what axe would you chose for Scottish climbing and would you use the same for pure water ice, do you have a favourite ?
rogerwebb - on 09 Jan 2017
In reply to drsdave:

At present I use Ergo or Viper and generally avoid water ice, but if pushed would use the vipers.
I have also been very impressed with the yellow grivel (tech machine?) on mixed but can't justify buying more axes to line my garage wall.
Ross McGibbon - on 11 Jan 2017
In reply to Fredt:
I used my Chouinard Zero on Grade IV ice just fine.
Some years later, I got Yvonne to sign it. One day I'll clean it up and hang it on the wall.

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